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Green Investment without Displacement along the Los Angeles River

Thursday, May 10, 2018
10:00am - 12:30pm PDT
The California Endowment Center for Healthy Communities
1000 North Alameda Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012
Members: $0.00
Non-Members: $0.00
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For decades, advocates, community members and policymakers have worked to revitalize the Los Angeles River, which like many other rivers in Southern California, was encased in concrete in the early 20th century. While visionary plans have existed for some time, the flow of dollars to riverways from various federal, state, city and private sources has dramatically increased in recent years. The Los Angeles River stands to benefit from green infrastructure investments in Southern California, which include funding for new parks, tree plantings, green streets, stormwater capture, bike paths and much more. With these investments, long-time community residents are already feeling pressures of gentrification and displacement, raising the question: who benefits from these investments?

Southern California is at a crossroads when it comes to its rivers and their relationship to surrounding communities, especially as new funding mechanisms are being considered (Prop 68 at the state level and a stormwater measure at the County level that could result in millions more going to riverways throughout Southern California). Will longtime residents get priced out as private developers swoop into communities to benefit from these public investments? Or is there an equitable development path forward that includes both greenspace and affordable housing and lifts up existing communities? In a recent article that appeared in City Lab written by Jon Christensen, he asks Can the LA River Avoid Green Gentrification? 

This convening will bring together leaders who have worked in coalition with other organizations on a broad set of issues connecting river restoration, park development, affordable housing, anti-displacement strategies and community development. You’ll learn how they work in partnership across organizations and silos and with allies to secure progressive policies, legislation and funding for thriving, resilient communities. You’ll also have an opportunity to connect and learn from other funders supporting this work in Southern California, both in large and small group discussions. Lunch will be provided for an informal lunch afterwards.  



  • Spencer Eldred, Staff Counsel, Mountains Conservation and Recreation Authority
  • Enrique Huerta, Community Organizer, From Lot to Spot
  • Mary Nemick, Director of Communications, City of Los Angeles Bureau of Engineering
  • Jill Sourial, Associate Director, Urban Conservation, The Nature Conservancy
  • Sissy Trinh, Founder and Executive Director, Southeast Asian Community Alliance (SEACA)
  • Thomas Yee (Moderator), Initiative Officer, LA THRIVES



Event in partnership with 


The SCG Environmental Funders Group meets a few times a year to educate prospective and current environmental funders about environmental challenges and opportunities in Southern California as well as fostering collaboration and to share successes and challenges. Please contact Adele Lee at [email protected] for more information or visit the group’s page on the Southern California Grantmakers’ website.



Spencer Eldred, Staff Counsel, Mountains Conservation and Recreation Authority

Spencer Eldred serves as Staff Counsel to Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority (MRCA) and provides legal services to the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy, Desert and Mountain Conservation Authority and other entities. He is a founding member of the LA ROSAH Collaborative. Spencer works on issues related to climate change, expanding public access to green spaces, protecting public open space and parkland acquisitions. He received his undergraduate degree in environmental science from Duke University and his J.D. from the University of Chicago Law School. Prior to working at MRCA, Spencer worked on environmental justice issues at the Natural Resources Defense Council and on water policy as part of a lab at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography (UCSD).  




Enrique Huerta, Community Organizer, From Lot to Spot

Enrique Huerta is a Community Organizer with From Lot to Spot, a non-profit organization that is dedicated to community-driven transformations of vacant lots into greenspaces throughout Los Angeles County. Enrique received his undergraduate degree in Urban and Regional Planning and holds an MS degree in Regenerative Studies from Cal Poly Pomona. With a passion for authentic community engagement and solutions, Enrique most recently led community engagement for the revitalization plan of one of the largest vacant lots in California―the Lower Los Angeles River. Prior to joining From Lot to Spot, he worked as a city planner for the City of South Gate and as an outreach consultant specializing in connecting disadvantaged communities with regional and state funding through the Integrated Regional Water Management Plan, where he garnered 100% funding for communities plagued with environmental justice issues.



Mary Nemick, Director of Communications, City of Los Angeles Bureau of Engineering

Mary Nemick is Director of Communications for the City of Los Angeles Bureau of Engineering, overseeing all communications-related strategy, planning and projects for the agency that leads the planning, design and construction of City public buildings, infrastructure and open space, including the revitalization of the Los Angeles River. Prior to joining the bureau, Mary worked for other government agencies in a communications role, including the Community Redevelopment Agency of the City of Los Angeles (CRA/LA), the City of Long Beach and the Los Angeles County Community Development Commission. Mary has worked in a press capacity on numerous Democratic campaigns, including serving as California Press Secretary for President Obama in 2012. During both the Clinton and Obama administrations, Mary coordinated media access and logistics for White House advance teams in the U.S. and overseas. Mary serves on the boards of the Los Angeles League of Conservation Voters and SEIU 721’s Los Angeles Professional Manager’s Association. Mary graduated from the University of Massachusetts-Boston and received a graduate degree in Urban Planning from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.


Jill Sourial, Associate Director, Urban Conservation, The Nature Conservancy

Jill Sourial holds a Masters degree in Urban Planning with an emphasis on Environmental Policy and Regional/International Development from UCLA. In 2015, she accepted a position as the Urban Conservation Director in Los Angeles for The Nature Conservancy. Prior to that, Jill was staff for over eight years to former Los Angeles City Councilmember Ed Reyes on issues of land use, transportation, renewable energy, parks and open space and watershed restoration, including a long-term revitalization plan for the Los Angeles River. Jill is trained in group facilitation and conflict resolution and has extensive experience working with diverse communities to transform the built environment and to advocate for environmental, social and economic change. She has also consulted to several nonprofit organizations and public agencies in order to support urban sustainability in the Los Angeles region and beyond. She currently serves on the Board of Directors at The Relational Center and on the Advisory Board for the Luskin Center for Innovation at UCLA. 


Sissy Trinh, Founder and Executive Director, Southeast Asian Community Alliance (SEACA)

Sissy Trinh is the Founder and Executive Director of SEACA in Los Angeles. A determined advocate for social justice, Sissy realized very few organizations addressed the needs of the Southeast Asian community. She envisioned and created a new program empowering the Southeast Asian community through leadership development, education, advocacy and organizing. Through SEACA's innovative organizing with youth, it used land use policy reform to take on the City of Los Angeles and a new wave of gentrification slated for Chinatown that was proceeding with no meaningful input from residents. SEACA was the organizer connecting the dots, bringing in land use experts and youth members and moving the policy through City Hall.




Thomas Yee, Initiative Officer, LA THRIVES

Thomas Yee is the Initiative Officer for LA THRIVES, supporting and coordinating the work of our partners toward equitable and sustainable transit-oriented communities in Los Angeles County. He was previously the Director of Planning at the LTSC Community Development Corporation, where he helped to launch the Sustainable Little Tokyo Cultural EcoDistrict, the first neighborhood-scaled EcoDistrict proposed in the Los Angeles region. In his fifteen years working in community development in Los Angeles, he has extensive experience in affordable housing development, community organizing and coalition building, fundraising and program implementation. Thomas earned a Masters in urban planning from the University of Southern California and is an AICP certified planner. 




No cost to participate

Who May Attend
Current SCG members and grantmakers eligible for SCG membership.

SCG members: Register online (you must log in to your SCG account to register).
Non-members: Register online. If you do not have an SCG account, contact us.

Accommodations for People with Disabilities
If you have a disability and require accommodation in order to fully participate in this activity, please contact our programs team at [email protected] or (213) 680-8866. You will be contacted by someone from our staff to discuss your specific needs.